These are of course very worrying times but there is now cause for hope with the roll out of the vaccine. Despite the difficulties caused by the Government keeping a tight control of the vaccine supply and information, the local NHS is getting on with the job, as you can read later on.
One of the biggest scandals of the Covid pandemic has been the indiscriminate awarding of billions of pounds of contracts to private providers, very often related to or friends of members of the Government. The latest of these contracts is a £25 million two year deal for ‘Palantir’, apparently an extremely dubious company, to run the massive NHS data store.
This is all despite previous assurances that there would be a transparent and public tender process. Thanks to ‘Open Democracy’ for yet again bringing another scandal out in to the open. Read it here.
ESON AGM – Tuesday 19th January – please join us:
Its AGM time – and our first online! Covid-19 has definitely changed the way we campaign. At our AGM we will be reviewing what we have done over the last year and discussing our campaigning priorities for 2021. So it’s a good opportunity to find out what we have been doing and help us plan our campaigning for the next few months. You will be very welcome.
Our AGM kicks of with our Guest Speaker: Tom Griffiths, Campaigns Officer with ‘Keep Our NHS Public’ who will talk about their exciting plans to launch a ‘Covid Peoples Inquiry’ and the fight against privatisation.
We will also be electing our Officers and Committee. If you are interested in getting involved please get in touch for more information – happy to chat.
Tuesday 19th January, 7.30pm. Please contact me to be sent the Zoom link
Top down NHS re-organisation – ESON responds to Consultation on ‘Integrated Care Systems’:
At the height of the pandemic we would have expected the Government to be focussing on how it could resource and shore up our struggling NHS. But instead of doing this they are steaming ahead with their plans to restructure the NHS, abolishing local Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) and centralising decision-making at regional level in ‘Integrated Care Systems’ ( ICS) .
Just when it’s been shown how more effective the NHS can be when it works closely with local Councils and Public Health, they propose to do the opposite!!
Before Christmas NHS England launched a Consultation (now closed) on proposed Government legislation that would give legal legitimacy to these ICS bodies. The Consultative document can be found online: “Integrating Care: The next steps to building strong and effective integrated care systems across England”.
This top-down re-organisation has huge implications for public accountability, availability and access to services. It also creates a massive chance for the private sector to cash in. The serious concerns expressed by the Local Government Association and NHS Providers have barely even been noted.
In North West London we have already got an ICS making decisions about local services – behind closed doors and despite it having no legal status. ESON and other North West London campaigns have already tried to raise concerns about the lack of transparency and accountability. We believe that local needs and addressing health inequalities will be undermined by a centralised NWL ICS.
ESON’s response to the ICS Consultation is attached. It’s an easy read and a good explanation of why we are concerned about these plans.
It is frustrating but progress is being made on Vaccinations :
As the daily figure of infections and deaths continues to rise, the prospect of a way out of lockdown and restrictions via vaccinations is probably the main thing keeping everyone going. So we would have hoped for more public information both locally and nationally, but it’s been slow in coming. The main reason seems to be that it is being over-controlled centrally.
Here is what we do know:-
The vaccination programme is being led by Ealing CCG (soon to be abolished) and NHS North West London. The first four groups which have been agreed nationally are:
Residents in a care home for older adults and their carers
All those 80 years of age and over and frontline health and social care workers
All those 75 years of age and over
All those 70 years of age and over and clinically extremely vulnerable individuals
The NHS says it is on target to deliver first vaccinations to Groups 1 -3 in Ealing by mid-February.
Around 58,000 people have now been vaccinated in NWL in those groups with approximately 130,000 still to be done, but no figures are being made available for local councils!
Currently vaccinations are being delivered in Primary Care Hubs (GPs). There are 20 hubs across North West London and two so far in Ealing at Victoria Hall and the Dominion Centre in Southall. A third site in West Ealing is expected to open in February. It’s all done by appointment and you have to wait to be contacted by your GP practice, so you can’t just turn up.
In addition, 10 mass vaccination centres are being opened in London. The first one in NWL will be in Brent. Unlike the primary care Hubs they will be organised centrally and so you have to book an appointment through a website, like for a test. Most people are still expected to be vaccinated locally.
Hospital, Social Care and private care staff are being vaccinated at hospital vaccination centres.
Ealing Council and other local Authorities have been pushing for as many vaccines as possible to be made available for local residents, but supply is firmly controlled by the Government.
Because it’s all being controlled centrally there doesn’t seem to be vaccination plan for areas like Ealing to take into account the high number of BAME residents or any other local factors. There is also no available data on the number of vaccinations delivered in Ealing.
Thanks to Virendra Sharma MP for some of this information, who we understand is following up on both the lack of data and a local vaccination plan.
A ‘Peoples Covid Inquiry’ – An exciting plan by ‘Keep Our NHS Public’
National campaign ‘Keep Our NHS Public’ (KONP) is about to embark on an exciting plan to set up a ‘Peoples Inquiry into the handling of the Covid pandemic in the UK.’ Whilst KONP supports the many calls for a Public Inquiry, the likelihood that this Government will agree to one any time soon is very remote and of course they would drag it out for years.
The aim of a ‘Peoples Inquiry’ will be to make the case now for a properly funded and publically run NHS that addresses the health inequalities that have been revealed by Covid -19. KONP will be working together with other campaigns such as ‘Bereaved Families for Justice’ and Health Trade Unions.
The Inquiry will have a series of online sessions with well-respected and knowledgeable panellists listening to testimonials and other evidence. Each session will have a theme including; mental health; pandemic planning and management; health inequalities; crisis in social care; impact on the disabled & elderly and Covid & frontline staff.
Recording of all the sessions, other video testimonials and evidence both from the sessions and from other groups will be centralised on the KONP website.
Local groups like ESON will be asked to help by collecting information on our areas; providing evidence and testimonials so some of you will be able to get involved too.
It sounds a brilliant idea!!
Just in case you need any reminding about how this Government has mishandled the Covid Pandemic here is a good summary from the KONP website.
‘The Pandemic and Privatisation’ – An Online Conference on 25th February
This should be a really interesting Conference focusing on the new wave of privatisation that has raced forward under cover of the pandemic, and how best to stop and reverse it.
Organised by Health Campaigns Together in conjunction with Keep Our NHS Public, UNISON, Unite, GMB, PDA union, the TUC, NHS Support Federation and The Lowdown magazine.
Thursday 25th February, 6.30 -8.30pm
More information and to book for free to confirm your place here